Hamas Seen as Stepping Up Military Preparations

One militant killed and three wounded during training exercise in southern Gaza Strip.

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Haaretz
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Hamas members display their weapons during a parade through Gaza City earlier this week.Credit: Reuters
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Haaretz

One person was killed and four others injured in an explosion at a training facility used by Palestinian militants in southern Gaza on Thursday, Ma'an Palestinian news agency reported.

Ashraf al-Qidra, Gaza's Ministry of Health spokesman, said Bilal al-Mnirawi, 20, was killed and four others injured in the blast. He did not mention which group the fighters were affiliated with, though news reports said it was Hamas.

Palestinian media differed over whether the blast was a "work accident" or caused by unexploded ordinance from the Gaza war last summer.

The explosion comes as Hamas has stepped up its military preparations. On Wednesday night, it held what was reportedly its largest training exercise since summer's Gaza war.

Residents of Israeli communities surrounding the strip reported hearing explosions and machine-gun fire, which lasted from midnight to the early morning hours of Thursday. It was the first time Hamas had held a large-scale training drill late at night.

The drill was held at a training center in Gaza that is located on the ruins of evacuated Israeli settlement Dugit.

Earlier this week, Hamas displayed its latest rocket capability during a parade through Gaza City to mark the 27th anniversary of the organization's founding. The rockets displayed included a new one that apparently has a longer range than the 160 kilometers of the already-known R-160.

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